Monday, March 12. 2007
The Commission reports, the reorganization begins, financials to be revealed. Your thoughts on the future of the OCA are welcome.
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"Be mindful, O Lord, of the presbytery, the diaconate in Christ, and every priestly order, and put not to confusion any one of us who stand about Thy holy altar. Visit us with Thy benevolence, O Lord; manifest Thyself unto us in Thy rich compassions; grant us temperate and healthful seasons; give gentle showers upon the earth unto fruitfulness; bless the crown of the year with Thy goodness; make the schisms of the churches to ceases; quench the ragings of hostile nations; speedily destroy, by the power of Thy Holy Spirit, uprisings of heresies; receive us all into Thy Kingdom, showing us to be sons of the light and sons of the day; and grant unto us Thy peace and Thy love, O Lord our God, for all things hast Thou given unto us: And grant us with one mouth and one heart to glorify and praise Thine all-honourable and majestic Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages."
The Anaphora (Eucharistic Prayer) of St Basil the Great, from which our editor quoted, is truly one of the most awesome prayers of the Church. I don't mean that like a teenager uses the word "awesome," well, I guess I do, but more - it is a prayer of awe and it is awe-inspiring. In many places in our Church the faithful are blessed to hear that prayer. Sadly, in others, it is prohibited. I cannot say that I can see a direct connection between the secrecy of Syosset and the Metropolitan's own stance on this issue (Metropolitan THEODOSIUS does recite the anaphora aloud), but perhaps there is an indirect relationship. Perhaps there is a connection between the mentality that "this is for the priests only" and the rationalisation of secrecy - at least with some people. It's just a thought. Whether or not a connection exists, it is manifest reality that keeping the anaphora secret is pastorally deliterious and so is the secrecy in which Syosset is engaged.
#1 Sine Nomine on 2007-03-12 11:40
I believe the events of the next two weeks will determine the future of the OCA and effect the welfare of the Holy Orthodox Church of Christ in North America for the many years. Let us all pray for those involved in these conferences and councils, and for many God pleasing results.
#2 Marc Trolinger on 2007-03-12 11:50
The $64,000 question: Will the MC get a moral backbone? Quoting Scripture is nice, and good, and true, but Scriptures don't seem to have guided much OCA behavior over the last 15 years. Will Scripture now guide this Council? Will the immorality and insipidness end? I am skeptical, yet hopeful nevertheless. Our God is all-powerful, even over the weaknesses of men.
#3 Name withheld on 2007-03-12 16:30
You are quite correct, "Name Withheld," that the OCAs leadership has not shown much respect for Scripture, or liturgical texts (as the above is), or let their lives be guided by them.
It is not the quoting of texts here that I am trying to emphasise, rather looking at the reality of what is and is not being done in the light of those texts. What do we learn? Does the above passage, from which our editor quoted, or perhaps the fact that the Metropolitan is among those hierarchs that won't let us hear that prayer, tell us something about what is really guiding his heart? Does it say anything about whether the MC will be able to effect anything significant even if they do get a moral backbone?
I have resided in communities where the Anaphora is recited aloud, and places where that is forbidden. Years ago I read an absolutely ridiculous, argument from 'tradition' printed in Alive in Christ, the diocesan magazine of Eastern PA when the Metropolitan was ruling bishop there, arguing that the prayers must be read silently. It took zero time to punch holes in the argument. But that isn't even the real issue. In all of the places I have lived, I have noticed that the community is more dynamic, more truly committed to the faith, not only in word, but in ACTION, where reciting the prayers aloud - as something in which the whole community is involved, is the norm.
Hence, I have come to believe that there is a practical, pastoral implication to reading the prayers aloud. I cannot help but wonder what the implications are of NOT doing so. How far do the negative effects reach? When we do not have those prayers "abiding within us and sojourning among us" to establish and confirm "the understanding that is within us," that is, to give us a moral compass and moral strength, what happens? I cannot help but believe that the lack of moral compass and backbone within the OCA has a lot to do with not having these prayers constantly reinforcing what is right, strengthening the clergy and the faithful. I cannot help but wonder whether the deliberate refusal to allow the prayers to be recited aloud is an indication of a moral, spiritual problem much deeper within the hierarchs who are of that mindset: namely, the very malady that had led us to where we are today. Everywhere I have been where those prayers are read aloud, the people, from the clergy to the young children, have been vibrant and active in their faith. They truly lived according to their confession of faith.
The evidence suggests to me that having those prayers recited aloud - and this means that the hierarch is of a mind to allow them to be recited aloud - fosters a context in which the faith is something intimate that really does guiide the lives of those in the community, whereas forbidding it distances the faith from the heart and activity - setting it at arms length, detached. When that happens, moral backbone collapses.
Is this correlation that I see real? I can't prove it empirically at this point, but the anecdotal, experiential evidence is too strong for me to dismiss the idea. Nay, I find it quite compelling, and already had done before this crisis began.
#3.1 Sine Nomine on 2007-03-13 11:03
Dear Sine Nomine,
Firstly, congratulations on proper use of the ablative case; unless my aged ears deceive me, the re-make of "Henry V" uses the ablative when what is needed is the dative.
Secondly, I am confused as to why reciting the anaphora out loud is even as issue. The anaphora is clearly meant to be heard by the whole assembly; and both the Didache (IX-X) and Justin's apologia (lxv) testify that this was the immediate post-apostolic practice, while the Emperor Justinian's Novella 136 (137 in some texts) prohibits the "silent" recitation of the anaphora, condemning it specifically as an innovation.
And the fact that later practice embraced the innovation does not make it right. Later practice also embraced (yea, almost institutionalised) the innovation and canonical violation (cf. Canon 9 of the Holy Apostles) of attending Liturgy without receiving Holy Communion. Yet that utter distortion is defended by no one these days (largely because it is theologically and canonically indefensible). If a later practice is wrong and contrary to all sound theology, it is wrong and contrary to all sound theology, period. Quite frankly, episcopal and other clerical defenders of these innovations should be tried and deposed for violating the promises they made at their epsicopal consecration or prior to ordination.
#3.1.1 Igumen Philip (Speranza) on 2007-03-14 03:59
Once again, I am happy to say a hearty "AMEN" to one of your posts!
#18.104.22.168 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-14 16:38
This is one time I wish I could use my real name, my pride getting to me. It so happens that in this case my use of ablative is not my own doing. I borrowed this pseudonym from the name of a western hymn I loved growing up in the Anglican Communion. However, I have been called a "grammarian" before; I believe I am the only person I know who consistently uses the subjective of to be, instead of the simple past; i.e. "if I were."
I found some of those same texts you cite when I was researching this point after I read that article in "Alive in Christ." The article horrified me, and the person who showed it to me and asked me to do a little research. While that article claimed "tradition" as the basis for reading the prayers silently, Tradition pointed to the opposite, as you observe. The Liturgy of the Eighth book (so called) is quite interesting in where it suggests a prayer being done silently at the Great Entrance, presumably, this prayer is similar to "No one who is bound,…" which, like a couple of the other prayers, is clearly priest-oriented. But then it clearly indicates the dialogue for the anaphora to be said aloud (of course) and makes NO indication of going back to silence. I must note here that the entire anaphora, not just the beginning, is a dialogue, whose pinnacle is the anamnesis "Remembering this saving commandment…[and] Thine Own, of Thine, offering unto Thee, in behalf of all and for all, WE PRAISE THEE, WE BLESS THEE. WE GIVE THANKS UNTO THEE, O LORD, AND WE PRAY UNTO THEE, O OUR GOD." It is all one sentence, with participles all the way through until "We praise thee." The English rendering of "we offer unto Thee" is from a modern Greek revision, and is not employed in the Slavonic.
The practical upshot of this, for those who are probably not into liturgical details, is that it is evident from the text itself that the entire anaphora should be said aloud. Sentences are not even complete, thoughts are not completely presented, when the anaphora is recited silently. Where does "singing the triumphant hymn…" come from if it is not the completion of the thoughts expressed before it about the cherubim and seraphim? One must ask, who is singing the triumphant hymn? What else are they doing while singing it?
Sadly, however, it is quite true that clericalism runs so rampant that some bishops verbalise the attitude that some prayers are only for the clergy and NOT for the laity: 'my' prayers, not 'yours.' Some bishops, will not even allow the faithful to join in saying, "I believe, O Lord, and I confess" before communion! From ancient times, it was required to make a profession of faith before receiving the HOly Mysteries. When that personal profession is forbidden to the laity, the faith is set at arms length. The message is "you may not express your faith at this intimate moment of receiving the Lord into the temple of your bodies," something contrary to the examples in the Gospels of people like Zacchaeus, or the sisters of Lazarus, whose faith saved them.
People, I hope this has not all seemed like a merely theological exposition. On the contrary, I really do believe it is very practical, very much about our real lives as Orthodox Christians, about our own relationship to God, our own worship of God. It is about that worship being 'in spirit and in truth" as the Saviour says in the Gospel. It's about our own internalisation of the faith, making it our own, and loving it ever so dearly. If our faith is to be set an arm's length, we become everything the Baptists think we are. We are forced to worship ritual, and we cease to worship God through ritual. I've seen the results: dead communities, with a lot of people who were baptised Orthodox attending Protestant churches. It's sick, truly sick, and it cannot be justified by "tradition."
Father Philip, may you be filled with the hope that your worldly last name suggests, and I hope this has been edifying to others as well.
#22.214.171.124 Sine Nomine on 2007-03-15 05:15
#126.96.36.199.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-15 17:25
I believe the correlation is real. And, it has been my experience, that many of the priests who don't say those prayers aloud actually don't say them at all, especially in the Liturgy of St. Basil. If they did, there would be long periods of silence, and most choirs would go nuts.
I have a great article called "The Reasons for and the Dates of Replacing the Audible Recitation of the Liturgical Prayers with Secret Recitation", by A. Golubtsov, printed in Bogoslovskiy Vestnik, September 1905, translated in 2000 by Fr. Alvian N. Smirensky. It is available on the Orthodox Research website. In the article, it is shown that making those prayers silent, originally came about from the thinking that the people were not worthy of hearing them - only the clergy were spiritually at the level to hear them. So, the result is that there really are two different liturgies running simultaneously, the liturgy of the clergy, and the liturgy of the people, made up mostly of listening to the choir, the only prayer they actually hear being the Prayer Before the Ambo, and since those variable prayers are no longer used in most places, they only hear the same prayer all the time.
This can only be rampant clericalism, and smacks of gnosticism. There are the enlightened ones, the clergy, and the great unwashed laity.
But, as has become so apparent in recent years, many of the hierarchs/clergy are no more enlightened than the people, unless one considers corruption as enlightenment. That leaves only clericalism and pride.
#3.1.2 Name withheld on 2007-03-14 06:58
Gnosticism indeed! One of the oldest and most persistent heresies in Christianity, and, in many ways, one of the most successful too. Just look at all the pop culture trash so influenced by it (Devinci Code, Gospel of Judas, etc.).
It also fans the flames of clericalism and spiritual pride, behind a facade of piety and exclusiveness.
#188.8.131.52 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-14 17:00
Is there a way you can post a link related to the information about the sexual harassment lawsuit against SVS?
If someone wants to find that link, I will post it)
#4 JJ on 2007-03-12 17:34
Reading the agenda for this meeting, this is the first time that I had heard about the lawsuit against SVS. I assume that this is the foundation from Colorado that is pursuing this litigation. I tried to get on to the website of the U.S. District court of Southern New York and see if I could find out any information about this lawsuit. Although successful getting on to the site, one is resticted from seeking information otherwise. Unless there is some other way to get into the site and get information as to who, what and where of the particulars, can you or anyone else shed a bit of light on this case and what is actually taking place?
(Editor's note: The lawsuit is being pressed by a former SVS student who is seeking damages as the result of a relationship between that student and a former instructor at the Seminary which took place a few years ago. It has been reported on several internet forums that as a result of previous private settlement the student (who had been suspended) was allowed to eventually graduate. The instructor was dismissed and eventually removed from the priesthood.
In the new lawsuit the former student, an adult, claims the seminary and the OCA failed to "protect him" from the instructor who "abused" his position of authority (as a counselor) over the student. He is seeking $10 million.)
#5 Harold Pukita on 2007-03-13 11:14
Dear Friends --
In this event, it was the student who seduced the professor, not the other way around.
This isn't to excuse the professor, who -- by virtue of his greater maturity and status at SVS, not to mention the many graces of the priesthood entrusted him -- should have resisted such a temptation, but merely to point out that this isn't as clear a case as might be thought.
Proskauer, Rose & Co. has again been retained by SVS to represent them in this case. A very foolish move on the seminary's part, I think, since P-R clearly hadn't defended them very well in the settlement phase two years ago, if some other lawyers now think that they can come back at SVS.
We might also note that this notoriously incompetent firm is also being retained by Metropolitan Herman (pointedly NOT the OCA) to 'build a firewall' around himself no matter the consequences to the OCA.
Now. were I the judge before whom this 'sexual harassment' case is presented, I'd dismiss it for being without merit, all these issues having been resolved earlier in the settlement, which allowed the student not only to graduate with his class and present a faculty-approved (!?) thesis on 'Homosexuality in the Orthodox Tradition' (or some very similar title), but to show up at graduation with his current boyfriend.
This toxic, predatory, ungrateful and delusional student wants only to stick his thumb in the Church's eye, and we opened our eyelids wide. May he and we wake up to our own moral condition and repent our sins, and may the Lord be merciful to him, and to us.
Peace and blessings to all as we continue this holy fast.
(Editor's Note: I regret to inform readers of this site that Mr Illief apparently committed suicide this evening..)
#5.1 Monk James on 2007-03-13 18:42
I am afraid that you are terribly misinformed about this "toxic, predatory, ungrateful and delusional student." You should get the story straight before you post such an awful and condemning statement about someone. I know it hard for us to believe, but it was the priest in question who was the toxic one, and he needs our prayers as well. May this students memory be eternal.
please keep me anon. I was very close to this whole situation and I know that his facts are bogus)
#5.1.1 Anonymous on 2007-03-14 05:41
Right now I am so angry I can barely see straight!
THIS is EXACTLY what happens when the Church ABANDONS victims of sexual abuse and then, as per "monk" James, castigates them!
Monk, you should be ASHAMED! Your vile, evil rant since you now posted it for the SECOND time (the first being the Orthodox Forum two weeks ago), probably caused this VICTIM to take his own life!!!! Does that make you proud???? Does it make you and your handlers HAPPY???? Do you even believe the prayer of St. Ephraim or are you too busy posting your venom all over the Internet to spend much time in prayer????? You make me sick!
But, I do take consolation in the fact, that you and those like you will be called to judgement one day by the Just Judge. And then, what excuse will you give?????
This is today's OCA, folks. Where victims are blamed and scholars who worked all their lives for the upbuilding of the Church have to be buried by a foreign Church.
As my Protestant friends'd say, "we need a revival here"
Most Holy Theotokos, SAVE US!
#5.1.2 Alexander Ivsky on 2007-03-14 06:24
Dear Fr James: please tell us how you would know who seduced whom? Were you there? Did you witness the way that the priest in question groomed a group of males to follow him and influenced them? Did you know Mr Illif? Did he ever talk to you about how he felt? About how the priest in question abused his privacy and tried to control him? I did not know Mr Illif well but I watched how he interacted with that priest and it was obvious who was controlling whom. Whether Mr Illif later on committed homosexual sins is not directly relevant to this issue--it is quite possible that his relationship with the priest in question lead him to lose all restraint. Please don't try to assassinate this man's character--he may have been emotionally disturbed and the lawsuit may have been some type of cry for help or enacted under pressure from someone else. Your comments above were not helpful to the cause of the OCA or Mr Illif's soul. Eternal Memory, Eric!
#5.1.3 Someone who went to SVS with Eric on 2007-03-14 07:20
Dear Friends --
I regret that Mark Stokoe chose not to include here the brief note I wrote you after I learned of Eric Iliff's suicide.
It's ignoble and wrongheaded in the extreme to ascribe to anyone responsibility for anyone else's choices, right or wrong.
As it happens, I was more aware of the dynamics of this situation than was productive to disclose earlier, and I'll say no more about it.
May the Lord be gracious to His servant, Eric, who thoughtlessly cast away the divine gift of his life. May He have mercy on him and on us.
Peace and blessings to all as we continue this holy fast.
#184.108.40.206 Monk James on 2007-03-14 17:40
Perhaps I did not make my meaning clear in my earlier post, so I'll try again...
Defamation -- The act of injuring someone's reputation by publishing, either in writing or orally, damaging information about them.
While no one can hold you responsible for the actions of another, your hastily penned words have legal ramifications to the families involved. Do not be surprised, then, if they take action against you.
May God bless your newly-rekindled pursuit of hesychia.
You did not ask for my advice, so do what you will with this post.
I suggest you consider refraining from further commentary on this issue. You might not see it this way, but your remarks and insinuations are offensive and inflammatory. Just leave it alone already, you've done enough damage.
#220.127.116.11.2 N. Denysenko on 2007-03-15 05:50
I don't know if anyone feels the same way, but I was more deeply distrubed by this post than any I have read here or anywhere else for that matter on any site associated with the Orthodox Church (and there are certainly some inflammatory sites!).
Why? While I can make an educated guess on the identities of the people involved here, I'm not sure how this lawsuit and its allegations are connected to the financial/administrative OCA scandal. Is it at all possible to keep the discussion on this forum a bit more focused? Or will this site become a clearinghouse for each and every piece of controversial church news?
(Editor's note: No. The only reason this was mentioned is that it was contained in the agenda of the Metropolitan Council. People then began asking more questions, as to why the OCA was being sued for $10 million. I sought to answer as fully and curtly as needed, since this topic is not directly related to this website's purpose of exposing the financial abuses in the OCA. The story then turned tragic, which hs attracted even more attention to it. Given the circumstances I hope people will now let Mr. Iliff rest in peace and end discussion of this thread.
#5.1.4 N. Denysenko on 2007-03-14 07:40
Perhaps with this most recent post and the sad news that accompanied it, the Monk James may now wish to seek the advice of an attorney for himself. I suspect that he may be hearing from one soon.
May the Lord grant rest to the newly-departed servant of God!
How very, very sad.
Really, this ALL has to STOP. NOW. Enough.
People's lives are at stake. People's faith is at stake. No more game playing. No more hiding and protecting when that 'protection' actually HURTS the people entrusted to the care of the church.
Honesty. Repentance. Love.
#5.1.6 Rebecca Matovic on 2007-03-14 10:17
Let us pray the lawsuit is settled fairly for all parties. Frankly, it sounds frivolous to me based on the price tag; but that is highly assumptive. Very few organizations can handle a 10 million dollar suit and frankly this student should know the impacts of this kind of lawsuit are only damaging to the priesthood. If he truly wanted to effect change, he could do so by requiring a non-monetary policy change by St. Vladimir's subject to third party audit, etc.
I'd like to comment on the wise decision making by the Metropolitan Council and the committees to nominate a non-priest for the OCA treasurer role. No offense to Fr. Paul or Met. Herman intended with this comment.
I have strong convictions that a priest should not be the holder of the purse strings of the church for two reasons. First, he most likely isn't an accountant in his first loved career. That is, most priests are priest's first, or at least that is the way I've seen them. I know of a particular priest, who is working full time in a very responsible role outside the church, but I truly believe he is also a priest first. I don't believe a priest should be the one to make decisions on whether the budgets can be made or not, whether to cut spending, etc. Priests first are accountants second...it can't be both in my world because I'm an accountant first and simply admire priests. Maybe its a thin look, but its mine and I'll reserve the right to think this way.
Second, a priest to me should not want to hold onto money, he should want to give it away by his very nature. I'm sure I'll get plenty of flack for this thinking because it fits Fr. Kondratick to some extent, but I believe it to be true from the priests I know. Giving money away and fiscal responsibility are not a good match and must always be balanced. Hopefully this Kevin K will be able to manage that balance as a non-priest. Further, as a non-priest, he may be able to suggest other ideas that are not in-line with what a priest may suggest, can't think of examples, but guessing there are some instances.
Having said all of this, I truly am humbled in the presence of any OCA priest (actually any Christian priest), so please noone take my post out of context to mean I'm disrespectful.
As for the editorial comments from Mark. I support the notion that the future be more important than the past which is not in concert with editorial comments. Unanswered questions, on the same note, are unhealthy for us to keep in the back of our mind for the next 20 years (an unneeded burden for me for sure). The committee really needs to differentiate between mismanagement and graft (if it occurred). Further, if Fr. Kondratick refuses to cooperate with the administration, or anyone in any official capacity, he should get early retirement at best.
We must take lessons from the past. Some of our learning is that this church grossly overspent, whoever we credit. It's sad that overspending continues in a birthday party for the chief monk who unless I'm mistaken took a vow of poverty, and I support the editorial comment regarding the party.
Further, with great hope, power will not be centralized so much and the Metropolitan will allow his staff of 5 to guide decision making. If this doesn't happen with him and other future Metropolitans, further future OCA problems are likely. I'm not sure I understand how that power is checked in the restructuring, unless those reports can escalate problems to the Council without reprecussions when appropriate, etc.
These are my thoughts, I'm confident and willing to share them publicly.
#6 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-03-13 20:50
The comments of "sine nomine" are cogent, in reference to the practice of silent anaphora prayers. I was told in my preparation for chrismation that we are all priests by virtue of our baptism and that we all participate in the invocation of the Holy Spirit during the Anaphora, and by inference if not in actuality, we are "gathered around this Holy Altar." We are all in the sanctuary. What these comments reveal (and the current crisis as well) is the enormous need for the renewal of the Church and for clarifying what the mission of the Church really is. The 2008 AAC agenda should definitely include this. Alice Carter
#7 Alice Carter on 2007-03-14 06:25
Finally. This display of backbone for the Metropolitan Council is a long time coming. Hurray!
The tide finally seems to be getting turned for the OCA in favor of much greater soundness rather than dysfunctionality. Where we were last year as compared to this year is dramatic in trying to just having our administration want to get our house in order. Bishop Job and those who stood with him are to be commended in taking the OCA another step closer to financial and moral soundness, sanity, and sanctity.
#8 Patty Schellbach on 2007-03-14 19:07
It is good to see a Bishop of the church so steadfast as Abp. Job in his efforts to report to the church what happened. It is sad he must become furious on his own. The balance of the Synod really needs to look closely at his leadership on this one, not as political grandstanding, but to follow it.
It is good to see an organization of the church recommending suspension of Fr. Kondratick if he won't help the church iron out its financial problems; this is past due.
I'm sorry Metropolitan Herman doesn't find the telling of the past sins of the church to be "edifying". From the moment sexual abuse happened in the Catholic church, its leaders didn't find it "edifying" and many, many children were abused through the churches misguided policies on priest's marrying and further, the sharing of information and prosecution of abusers. Once the facts are told, the story is over. The truth is more edifying than a shadow, and the OCA can't survive in shadow.
Metropolitan Herman would be wise to reverse his position quickly on this matter. Anything less appears secretive and he should realize this as political disaster for himself.
Get the story out there and the fire will rage for a few months and then the future can begin.
Leave the fire smouldering and watch how people respond.
#9 Daniel E. Fall on 2007-03-14 19:42
You are one hundred percent correct!
#9.1 Kenneth R. Tobin on 2007-03-15 05:06
I'm thoroughly impressed with the choice of Director of Ministries and Communications, Rev. Andrew Jarmus. Fr. Andrew comes highly liked and recommended by various lay and clergy in Canada. He is an energetic priests writing an uncountable amount of articles on theology.
Has a wonderful family and a very grounded life in Christ. He was the star priest of the UOCC before his departure and leaves a needed mission in the heart of Winnepeg, Canada will miss him. Hopefully the fact that people like this are taking over will make it harder for corruption to reign. These names bring a certain transparency and professionalism to Syosset that has been forgotten lately.
#10 Mike on 2007-03-14 22:12
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